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Before You Buy a Mountain Bike - A Buyers Guide

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Mountain bikers
Ilan Shacham/Moment/Getty Images

Buying a mountain bike can be a bit frustrating and can take some time. This guide will help you put some thought into it before you lay down the cash and make the process go a bit smoother

Determine Your Price

There is virtually no limit to how much money you can spend on a new mountain bike. To keep your spending under control, figure out what price range you are willing to pay for your new bike and try to only look at bikes within that price range. I do not recommend buying a bike from a mass-merchant store such as Wal-Mart or Costco. Support your local bike shop and get a better product and much better service.

     

    Find Your Style – What Kind of Riding Do You Want To Do

    Mountain bikes are designed for several different riding styles and terrain. You will need to figure out what type of riding you'll be doing most of the time. Is it smooth trail riding, cross-country racing, all mountain cruising or lift accessed gravity mayhem? Make sure the bikes you look at fit your riding style and not the sales staff’s.

     

    Full Suspension or Hardtail ? – Comfort vs. Efficiency

    I always recommend a full suspension mountain bike if you can afford it. Hardtails, without rear suspension, are lighter weight and pedal more efficiently but full suspension designs offer more comfort and better control. You will want to decide based on your price range, riding style and terrain.

     

    The Component Conundrum – Find Your Favorites

    It is nearly impossible to compare mountain bikes component to component. There are simply too many combinations. I recommend finding a few components that are most important to you for comparison and make sure the rest fall within some sort of minimums for your price range. I usually start with the fork and then look at the wheels and rear derailleur.

     

    Sales, Seasons, and Bonuses – Get a Good Deal

    Mountain bike prices can fluctuate significantly during the year. The main buying season is from spring through summer. If you are lucky enough to be able to wait until the right price comes up, usually in the fall and winter, you can save a few hundred dollars. You will also find that a lot of bike shops will offer discounts on accessories or other products and services when you buy from them. There is nothing wrong with buying last years model if it fits your needs.

       

      Find a Good Dealer

      Finding a good dealer can be more important than getting a good price. Find a dealer that cares more about selling you the right bike than selling you the more expensive one. A good dealer should have a clean repair shop and you should feel like you can trust them.

         

        Test Ride, and then Test Ride Some More

        Test ride as many bikes as you can in your price range and riding style category. You will find that some bikes will just feel right while others don’t. The more bikes you ride the better feel you will have for what you like and what you don’t.

         

        Do Some Research – Read Some Product Reviews

        Product reviews are a great way to find out about a mountain bikes performance and reliability. Look your bike up before you buy it and make sure there isn’t anything someone else discovered that you might not like.

         

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